PLATFORM

ENSURING COMPETENCE IN THE PROFESSION

The Law Society needs benchers who understand their duty to regulate in the public interest, in order to ensure that legal professionals meet appropriate standards of competence, conduct and learning. I am an experienced professional regulation lawyer, and will always put ethics, competence and service to the public first.

We need to do more to ensure competence on entry into the profession, and an even playing field without market-driven barriers to entry. Articling has become a barrier to qualified - and often racialized - licensees; the LPP is not a permanent fix.

Lawyers in sole and small practices, and across Ontario, need accessible and affordable continuing education. The Law Society should also take a hard look at limited licensing (limited scope of practice and competency requirements).

GOVERNANCE REFORM

Continued governance reform is necessary for cost-effective regulation in the public interest.

ENGAGEMENT WITH THE PUBLIC AND THE PROFESSION

The public need to have confidence in the self-regulation of lawyers and paralegals. Outreach is part of the solution, as is a strong, timely and transparent discipline process. Elected benchers must acknowledge and abide by their fiduciary duties, including in a comprehensive Code of Conduct.

Convocation needs to seek meaningful feedback from the profession on important initiatives or changes to practice. This occurs often, but the publication of the Family Law Action Plan (creating a new license for non-lawyers to provide certain family law services) the day before it was approved by Convocation in December 2017 was a low point. The benchers need to work with the family bar to ensure that the activities permitted under the license are suitable to non-lawyers and meet A2J goals.

ACCESS TO JUSTICE

The Law Society, as a regulator, has finite resources, so its approach to access to justice should be effective and within its statutory mandate. I support the Call for Comment on the Access to Justice Approach, and look forward to expanding the LSO's work in (i) facilitating access to legal services, (ii) providing accurate and clear legal information for the public, (iii) supporting an accessible, fair and effective justice system, and (iv) providing assistance to external organizations. I support provision of legal services through registered civil society organizations, such as charities and not-for-profit organizations.

It is time for the Law Society to take a leadership role on the crisis in legal aid, by partnering with Legal Aid Ontario, the Law Foundation of Ontario, Pro Bono Law Ontario and others to address the access to justice needs of Ontarians.

PREPARING THE PROFESSION FOR FUTURE TECH

The Law Society can do more to ensure lawyers are supported to meet the challenges of rapid technological changes. In regulating new technologies and business models, we need a healthy balance between efficiency in the delivery of legal services and protecting the public.
 

EQUITY, DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION

Young and racialized lawyers need the support of the Law Society to succeed. We must do better to address the additional barriers that many members of the profession face in both entry-to-practice and seeking equity and inclusion throughout their careers.

I support the SOP, along with the other recommendations passed by Convocation arising from the report on Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees. I will work to ensure their implementation and enhancement.

MENTAL HEALTH

The Law Society can do more to address mental health and addiction issues, through both preventive and regulatory strategies. I will bring my considerable experience in advising regulators on discipline and capacity matters to bear on issues of mental health as it intersects with the investigation and discipline process.

 

© 2019 by  Megan Shortreed

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